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[moaning and chanting]
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>> well, janet, thank you very much for chanting for us. can i give you a hand? i know you aren't chanting -
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this is... welcome to another session of beliefs and believers. so could you give us a little background on the chant and what it means and what it is? >> the chant that i just did is a chant of gratitude, a prayer of gratitude to the lord patanjali, who gave to the people the yoga and the grammar and the medicines, so they would be healthy, well spoken, and have wisdom. >> well, thank you so much. as you can tell, what a wonderful way to start our first section on an outside world view that you may not be familiar with. we're of course looking at hinduism today in class, and we're going to be asking hinduism to help us understand experiential dimension. and since this is i think about the first time we've gone into that, let me just make that point once again - we're not going to pretend here- thanks again, janet - in a mere 60 minutes to learn, well, really, very much at all about hinduism, but there's so much hinduism can tell us about the experiential dimension. so that's what we want to enter into today,
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and what better way than to have one of our own students - janet - do some chanting. responses to her chant? i mean, i was listening and we're getting ready to start this class, but did you feel the tone, the feel in the room change? i mean, something different's happening. sure, bob. >> it gave me a peaceful feeling. in fact, i finally closed my eyes, because it just felt better that way. >> exactly, i mean, i almost - i was standing back there, waiting to walk out and get the class rolling here, and i was spacing out; i almost didn't make it. but that's it, it's a very - and that's what we're looking at. we want to ask the question "why" in religious experience, and of course, when you turn to hinduism, chanting becomes extremely important. in fact, one of two groups we'll look at is the hare krishnas a bit later in the hour, and of course, they're known for chanting, and we'll hear one very eloquent devotee speak about the experience that comes from chanting the hare krishna chant. but janet,
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from your perspective, you obviously chanted - how does that move you experientially? >> when we use the chant, it's one of the very first invocation in the yoga sutra as written by patanjali, and we do it so that we can go inside ourselves, and become peaceful and centered, and then be more open to the yoga practice. we do it at the beginning of every yoga practice, whether we practice alone or in class. and so it makes you - helps you be grounded and then open - opens you to the receptiveness of the experience that you will have during the yoga practice. >> i think that's key, because in our last class we talked about mystical experience and meditation and some of these key elements, and i think we even ended up speaking about hymns in the christian context. well, chanting is a way - and then, correct me if i'm wrong, and anybody else who's had experience - it's a way of saying "enough" to the everyday kind of chatter of the mind, or the concerns and the self-awareness
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and the ego trips that we're all on; it's saying, "enough of that. i'm moving to another space experientially," and this is a method to do it. so, does that work out for the most part? okay. well, as we like to do in this class, we of course want to not hear your average religious studies professor speak about what a hindu knows about religious experience - we want to go to a believer. and in the last class, we got to meet our swami at the vedanta center in california. now i would like to bring him back in our roll-in. i do have some graphics to go through that will chart out some - what i like to call what are the hindu answers to profound life questions. well, why don't we go to the roll-in and hear from the point of view of a hindu believer. first off, some of the history of this extraordinary religion. all the other major world religions can pinpoint a particular time or perhaps a particular leader. but you go into the primordial early years of hinduism
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and it's very vague, very old, very mystical, how it all began. and in fact, the swami will say that hinduism really isn't a historical religion at all - it's about an eternal truth. so if we could turn to the swami, let's hear in his own words what hinduism is in terms of history, but also in terms of some of its key teachings. >> see, hinduism, we can divide the history into three heads - one of them ancient, one of them medieval, and then the modern. and in one sentence, the history, when we say, it's all about the past. hinduism really is called sanatana dharma, or the eternal religion, because it deals with
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the eternal values - not just the past values or the present values - and the eternal truth. so it is not a historical religion, like christianity or buddhism or islam, where someone founded on a particular date and then afterwards it went in growing. the eternal interlinks - spirit, or the light or god - manifested itself in different people at different times. that's all. accordingly, we can say one is ancient, and then modern. otherwise, it is eternal - it is timeless, because truth is timeless, god is timeless. so in the let me say ancient period, it is up to probably the eighth century, a.d. so there, the three scriptures
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became prominent there - that is the upanishads, the brahma sutras, and the bhagavad gita, although they all were... generally came from the vedas. and in there, first we find some [inaudible], especially natural powers, like the sun and the moon and the waters and all that. later on, or very soon, we find there are other things - not just the externals - it is the interlinked spirit everywhere. then afterwards, slowly developed the philosophical side, and then the inquiry, and meditation. it is not just watch it, external watch it - it is a philosophical inquiry and meditation, and direct experience of the truths
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they were inquiring about. and later on, in the next period, is the medieval period, where the commentators came. they were the top-ranking scholars, with great intellectual acumen and spiritual insight, and they were commonplace in these scriptures. and side-by-side developed the, what we call mysticism, or experience of god as love - love and light - whom we call - the word is [inaudible]. and all over india, in this period, from eighth century to probably 18th century, we find hundreds of them, different parts of india, coming from their different language backgrounds,
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and then different social backgrounds, and there are many, the worship of god as original, other living reality, and god is shiva, and god is the divine mother, or god is just power. and hundreds of them with different slants - each region had its own different slant, like that up to 18th century. then, after 18th century came the influence of the modern signs and then the christianity and islam - all those things came. and at that time, they needed some kind of a combination of all this - then comes sridhara krishna. sridhara krishna represents all these,
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and something more. that is why we may call this sridhara krishna's comprehensive mysticism, and a strong flavor of humanism. >> this has been incredibly helpful. but for the student who hasn't quite grasped hinduism or monist mysticism, is there something you'd like to add? >> the important point in hinduism is this, to summarize this, is this: ask students, "who are you? what is it that is of the spirit; it is divine. in essence, you are divine; in essence, everything is divine. and what is religion? expression of the their divinity in daily life is religion." or, as some [inaudible] sridhara krishna defined religion as the manifestation of divinity already in man - that is religion.
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and that religion - religion means realization. it should not remain as a theory, as a philosophy - it should be felt; it should be practice, it should be felt and realized in our daily life. and it can be done, because it's your own. you're not acquiring from anywhere or borrowing from somewhere. it is your own - you just discover it in yourself. and that is why each one has one's own religion in one sense. [inaudible] harmony, one may be a hindu or a muslim or a buddhist or a christian - really, each one has religion in one's own heart; that expression of that is religion. on that basis only, the hinduism respects and accepts all the major religions as true. who or what is doing this? that's a very respectable religion -
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that divinity, which is inherent in everyone, is expressed in life. and it expresses in life as love, as wisdom, as strength, and that is the basis for the harmony of all religions, because of that. and then because of that only, we are all one. there is no other way to say how we are all one - because of the same divinity, we are all one. >> that's so very typical of the ramakrishna and vedantin school, the idea that we are all one. i couldn't help as i was looking at him, did you notice the flowers right next to him? i mean, the attitude is, let them all reach out to the sun; let the sun make them grow - they all have a place, they all have a right. now, obviously, not all people are going to accept that, but from an experiential dimension - also, you heard what he said. he said, you get down to the nitty-gritty, and he said,
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"the real question is: who are you?" and how else did he put it? "what is that which is?" or something along those lines. i mean, that's the identity and relationship idea that we've been trying to make sense of here - you see that sort of impulse as you come through hinduism. yeah, janet? >> when he talked about that you are ready - the divine - and that's the last instruction that my teacher gives at the end of the chant - the moment of silence - is to salute the divine that is already within you. and you see how very open-minded that is, once again? i mentioned that in the last class about ramakrishna, who is the leader of the order, talked about the foothills of the mountains, where people disagree about theology and doctrine, but as you climb up you lose the experientially. another thing he said that is so key and touches on a lot of the things from the last class is, you have to do it - you don't just sit there and read a book or take religious studies classes. well, you could take those. you have to get out there
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and actually do it, and i think that's a key in hinduism. but true, in other major religions we'll touch on, you won't find that kind of open-mindedness that all religions ultimately lead to the same truth. but from a hindu point of view, particularly that oneness idea, that unity that we see, it's key there. >> i mentioned before that i felt that he was very sincere. kind of what i'm getting now, you look at not only is he serene, but he has almost a smile in his eyes. and he's looking and accepting just by being there. i felt that it wouldn't take very much for him to reach out and hug. he just has that look of complete acceptance about it. the monks, on the other hand, were stern - you could tell they sacrificed; i mean, what did he say, 150 days without eating or something like that? but this man accepts life and he accepts everyone,
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evidently - that's the whole impression i get of him. and we didn't have it on tape - we went into the main meeting hall - and right up there in the front it's a visual image of the leaders of different religions. and then you'll find the koran, the bible, sacred texts in hinduism, sacred - the hebrew bible - they're all right there, it's an extraordinary kind of thing. but what they're saying, if you're going to talk oneness, let's talk oneness, and let's not be arguing about religion. i know what you mean about that sense of reciprocity and calm from him - i mentioned that in the previous class. another person in the previous class i did feel that from - i don't know if you remember bishop thomas. now, you would expect the bishop to be rather stern - administrators have a lot of pressure - but i also saw that in his eyes. and believe me, the camera and the audio equipment was messing up and we had to keep redoing things, but he was just, "oh, that's good. my roots are deep." that kind of thing. sure, janet. >> well, if you really believe
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that each human has the design within them, then when you look on any human, then that's... then you're looking at the divine within them. so like i said, he could just hug you and that's the feeling that you get - they're recognizing that divineness. >> and so many of the great religions teach that, and yet it is so hard to do. can you imagine how different the world would be if even for a little bit we saw that interconnection, that each person had the divine in them, when in fact it's the opposite, and so often back down on those foothills below the mountain of spiritual attainment, you learn to make your own identity through who you aren't. and so i'm - if i'm this, you're not this, and so i can hate you or dehumanize you or not believe your doctrine and make fun of you - all the many prejudices that a class like this tries to correct. but i mean, we can run 10,000 hours of beliefs and believers and it's not going to do one darn thing in terms of the world,
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in terms of making it a more harmonious place, unless people actually were able to attain that experience of their interconnectedness with other people. and that's why i think the people we've listened to so far in the course - and we'll hear further on - who speak to that interconnectedness, it's an amazing part and cuts right to the core of the experiential dimension, because, as we said, religion means to reunite. sure, joanne. >> i work with young disability children, and you find that inner peace of what you're talking about when you work with someone and they can't speak, they can't walk, but you just talk to them, and their eyes speak back to you. so you see that with young children all the time. i had an extraordinary experience working with - they were the challenged children off a military base of generals and colonels, and a lot of them who were sad situations back when they did forceps delivery - a perfectly normal child's head would be crushed and they'd have brain damage,
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they could be downs syndrome, they could be severely emotionally screwed up - they were all in this one school. and i found in them a lot less of the kind of everyday hassles and concerns and meannesses that you find in most people, and there was genuineness in their relationships, and a real love and compassion, and i find that - the people that are challenged have some sort of an instinct that lends itself to what the swami's talking about. it's not, as he might say, well, everybody's hindu - oh, we don't want to say that. but there's some kind of religious instinct he's speaking about that is very well stated in hinduism, which is one of the reasons i wanted to bring that up at this juncture of the course. >> my lutheran background, the old hymn book, i would say 20 years ago, every sunday, we announced that we are by nature sinful and unclean, and so it's very hard to switch and decide that,
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oh, maybe i'm divine. it's an insidious thing that we do in our liturgy, because we - we just say it. we don't say, "well, i'm not going to say that part of it, because it's not true for me." >> here we're jumping over to the doctrinal dimension, to some extent, but it's quite true. you've seen the bumper stickers from the same religious perspective - christianity, what is it about? sinners aren't - well, i'm a sinner but i'm forgiven, or something along those lines. it's a - >> i'm not perfect, but forgiven. >> - but forgiven, and it's the idea that, you're thinking of yourself as a sinner. now, in all fairness, the idea is to generate a kind of humility - that self-emptying that takes you out of that ego trip that i'm so cool. so the self-emptying of christ on the cross is very similar
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to the kind of self-emptying the hindu is doing or the buddhist is doing through meditative practice. so that's the deep theological level. but you're so right, for the average person on the street to get up in the morning and be, "i'm a miserable sinner," you could go the wrong way and say, "well, if i'm a miserable sinner, i can shoplift or be mean or hate somebody." yeah, follow-on. >> in addition, experientially, my children were not born sinful and unclean - they are beautiful acts of creation. so i know that i've been saying has influenced me, but it simply was not true in what i experienced in my children. >> what a beautiful statement. i mean, in children, the innocence, the joy that they come into the world with. and many people in this classroom are parents, i'm obviously a parent - i don't know if it's
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that obvious; do you see the wrinkles? no. you watch what makes the children - what changes them from that joy, that mystery, that magic in - we've talked about that in class. well, let me go to these graphics, because it's so easy on this to move out of hinduism into the wide conversation. but let me go through the graphics. we'll come back, we'll talk about the hare krishnas, another variety or sect, and then we'll just open it on up here. as i said with the graphics, i try to place this in our class context, and so key answers from hinduism to life's questions. and just some of them - we're not pretending we're going to get all the hindu doctrine and do that sort of thing. but if we ask hinduism - or if we ask the swami, "swami, what would be the most important answers you might give to questions about identity and relationship, what would they be?" so it's just a sprinkling here in the world of hinduism. but i thought if we went through that we'd get at least some common background on it. so i've got a couple
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of major ones on identity - he said knowing who you are is key. and so from the hindu perspective - and of course, as always, in the world of religion, we have such a diverse group; there's many, many different groups - and so we've had variations down here once again in our foothills, and we're getting a lot of mileage out of this analogy. but i like it. we're down here, we will get some disagreements. but overall, i think most hindus could agree with these key answers. first, brahman, he mentioned brahman - this is the ultimate ground of being - existence, consciousness, bliss, the mind, all in all. here we had the sense that there is one something - some divine behind everything, and in the flowers and in the world around us, so we have that. so where does that put humans? well, our soul - he said everyone is divine. well, in the hindu context, that's achman. ultimately, achman and brahman are one - our soul is divine. and that's a nice way to get up in the morning step right on out-you're so right. "hey, you know, i'm divine."
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in fact, we were over at - we didn't put the video in the class - but we were over at the lemont hindu temple, the vishnu, here in our region, and the fellow very nicely said, "god is in me; god is in you." and i said, "great," "sounds good; we'll go with that one." but that's the idea - achman is the human soul, and it's eternal. we'll talk about reincarnation and karma here in a moment, but it's in all living things. this is similar to our nature mysticism, but also elements of monist mysticism. moving on to relationship. we got it settled, folks, right off the bat in terms of identity - brahman is everywhere, is one, is perfect, is bliss, is joy, and we are one with that; we are but drops in the ocean of eternal bliss. doesn't that sound good? i could start my morning with that, with the wheaties. anyway, relationship - karma. here we get into the very intriguing doctrines, really - we could call them answers
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to profound life questions. karma is a kind of cosmic law of cause and effect - it affects all deeds in life. to put it a little bit crassly and simplistically, what you do affects what happens right now, but also in the next life, when it links us up with reincarnation. sure, janet? >> my great grandmother had a saying. whenever my grandmother, she would ask her for something, my great grandmother would say to her, "lillian, what's coming to you won't miss you." and that's like a zen buddhist bohemian grandmother saying, you know? that's karma. wisdom. >> did you hear what the swami said? he said he didn't even want religion here - he said hinduism is just about the ancient wisdom, and that is such a great thing. you won't miss it - there is not anything you can do about it except change what you do or how you react to it. and that's a great way of understanding karma. it's just not - well, some people, the hare krishnas we visited,
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really took it literally. i began to think of the fundamentalists, or the hare krishnas as kind of fundamentalist hindus and not - if you're a pig farmer in kewanee, you'll have to be reborn as a pig and get killed exactly by that farmer. now most hindus don't take it quite that literally, because most don't want to live in kewanee, but anyway, you get the idea. now what makes this all very interesting, of course, is the second relational idea, which is reincarnation. like we talked about in the last class, we don't just go around one time - we go around thousands and thousands of times, all driven by the law of karma, by what deeds we do determines where we go in the next life. now some hindu sects will say you can go backwards. you can become a furry hamster or something like and live in a cage and run on a wheel if you own microsoft in this life - i don't know, whatever it is. but you get the idea that - but what happens, what you do drives that reincarnation thing.
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now we don't want just to get good lives over and over again - we want to go back to the realization of where we totally know achman and brahman are one; we want moksha - we want liberation. we want to get off of the wheel of life, and so the key idea here is moksha, which is a cessation - a liberation from the karmic wheel, the cycle of birth and death. and the way to do that is through a lot of different interesting paths and techniques in hinduism called yoga. and some people - in fact, janet's chanting set it up for yoga, but this is, in essence, a spiritual path, and it's designed to ultimately unite achman with brahman. now we'll see - bhakti yoga is a variety of yoga which is very typical of the hare krishna movement; they chant because of love. you can come - as we all know, you can become one with something by loving it. but we also have jana yoga - the yoga of the intellect,
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of knowledge; raja yoga - the psychological pathways; karma yoga - the yoga of work; and of course, hatha yoga is a way. yeah? our practitioner here, janet. >> [inaudible] has a really cute story. it tells of a businessman who is admiring the yogi ascetic - admiring his powers of enunciation, because it's part of yoga, with the senses. but the yogi says back to the businessman, he said, "oh, no. your powers of enunciation are far greater than mine, because i a renouncing the finite for the infinite; you, however, are renouncing the infinite for the finite." >> and we're back to the previous class - what makes a person give up everything and go to a monastery? it is the experience. and that's such a good point that you bring up, because they're getting something - there is something tangible in terms of religious experience that makes all spiritual seekers
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on all the paths go to these extremes. and it's like my friend, the brother from that monastery i mentioned who's stuck in the traffic on wilshire boulevard, he's a lawyer, and he says, "for 20, 30 years, i'm going to suffer and have desires and be tormented, and it's just so i can drive a fancier car in the same traffic jam." if we really scratch our heads and think about it, why are we doing all this? >> i had a very scary observation, and that is, i was visiting my children in pakistan, and these people believe in karma - believe me. we were going up the grand trunk road, and there are camels, there are water buffalo pulling carts. i was in the front row of a bus, because they knew i'd like the experience. there were buses with people hanging off the sides, and they had their sheep on top of the buses - i mean, you couldn't see the bus for the people hanging over it. this is a "mountain path, drop down the cush on the side" karma. chicken all the way - everybody had to get out of the way,
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